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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

by Rebecca Skloot
If my mother hadn't lost her kindle, I wouldn't have heard about this extraordinary book. I've studied biology and cell biology and heard of Henrietta Lacks. I was only slightly interested in the woman who basically jump-started cell genetics. I just have to say thanks to Mama, I end up reading this book.

The science in this book is epic in proportion. Just imagine a small sample of cells cultured to dozens of test tube, then hundreds, to thousands to millions and billions. This cell became the basis of mass production for several successful cell company which in turn made more cells. Not only the amount of production is massive, but these cell line became the basis of studies for cancer, polio, and myriad of diseases. It sprouted the foundation for study of genetics and cell behavior. All this from a woman who didn't even give permission for her cells to be immortal or numerous.

Rebecca Skloot did ten years of research for Henrietta's life. This book is about the science and the person and the family which was affected by it. The saddest part is, the family didn't even benefit in any form from this astounding cell. None of the huge company who profited from this cell ever thought to give donation so Henrietta's children do not have to live in poverty. No foundation was set up so they could go to school and be educated.

This story fascinated me and disgusted me and impressed me all at once. It is very powerful. I think everyone should read it.

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